Kendall Anthony did his best impression of, well, Kendall Anthony on Wednesday night against St. Francis, picking himself up out of a shooting slump with just three minutes to play and leading the Spiders to a win in the first round of the NIT.
Richmond allowed a 15-point lead to dwindle to just two points with no more than two minutes remaining, but Anthony took over the court and slammed the door shut on the Terrier's comeback hopes. He scored six of his 12 points in the final two minutes and thirty seconds of the game, and two of his baskets resulted from nifty dribble moves that riled up the Robins Center crowd and reassured his teammates that "we got this." The Spiders went on to win 84-74.
"[Anthony] has tremendous confidence and he's earned that confidence," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "He's the hardest worker on the team and he's the most competitive guy on the team."
It did take Anthony about 37 minutes of game time to really get involved, though. Junior Terry Allen shouldered much of the workload throughout the rest of the game, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, both team highs. TJ Cline, Josh Jones, ShawnDre' Jones and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa all scored between 11 and 14 points as well, which made it possible for Anthony to remain more-or-less dormant for most of the game.
Anthony's teammates expressed a desire to help their senior leader go out on top. "We want Kendall to leave the champion that he is," Nelson-Ododa said.
The Spiders offense was "clicking," as Allen put it, and the scoring distribution (Richmond had six players in double figures) was as good as it's been this season. Mooney credited Nelson-Ododa for playing a well-rounded game despite his recent return from injury, and he called Josh Jones' performance the best of his career.
Josh Jones had the highlight of the night, actually. On a fastbreak, he jumped from a surprisingly long distance and dunked with power and confidence. "That's as good a dunk as we've had here in a little while," Mooney said. "That was really impressive."
The Terriers fought harder than many expected them too though. They out-rebounded the Spiders 35-32, and three players scored in double figures. Chris Hooper recorded his first career double-double for the Terriers, with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The game was high-scoring and had a quicker pace thanks to the 30-second shot clock, which the NIT is implementing as an experiment for all of the NCAA. "It definitely did make a difference," Nelson-Ododa said. "But I think it's something that over the course of practice and the season, you can adjust to."
The Spiders will host Arizona State in the second round after the Sun Devils upset the UConn Huskies. The game will be at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday in the Robins Center.
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